East of Naples, a section of the Florida National Scenic Trail passes through the National Preserve. Keep an eye out for the Florida Panther.
This trail stretches across Florida from Gulf Islands National Seashore to Big Cypress National Preserve. The southernmost sections of the Florida National Scenic Trail lie within the Preserve. The Preserve portion of the trail can be logically divided into three sections:
Loop Road to Highway 41 - approximately 6.5 miles one way
The trail begins (or ends) at the Loop Road approximately 13 miles from its east end on Highway 41. The other end is across the highway from Big Cypress Visitor Center (55 west of Miami and 53 miles east of Naples on Highway 41). Please refer to maps on this WebPage or call the visitor center for detailed directions.
The trail winds through dwarf cypress and prairies and crosses through Roberts Lake Strand. It is well marked and easy to moderate in the winter season, but knee to waist deep in water during the rainy season. This part of the trail is an easy and well-marked way to take a short walk into the Preserve to get that "out in the middle of nowhere" feeling. Sometimes the only sounds you hear are wind and the occasional jet flying over.
Highway 41 to Interstate 75 - approximately 28 miles one way
Trailheads are located on highway 41 near Big Cypress Visitor Center and on Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley) at the rest area at mile marker 63.
The trail passes through a variety of habitat types including hardwood hammocks, pinelands, prairies and cypress. Some high ground is available for camping at 13-mile camp. DURING THE DRY SEASON, THERE IS NO WATER AVAILABLE ON THIS ENTIRE ROUTE! YOU MUST CARRY ALL WATER! This walk is not for the casual hiker. It is not heavily marked and vegetation grows over it during the rainy season when there is little foot traffic.
Interstate 75 to Preserve North Boundary - approximately 8 miles one way
This section of trail follows Nobles Grade, an old oil road, through hardwood, prairie and pinelands. Beyond the Preserve Boundary the trail is limited to a small number of hikers who are members of the Florida Trail Association per month travelling through the Seminole Reservation. Please contact the Florida Trail Association for further information.
Overall, Florida Trail is the 31st most popular hiking trail of all 43 hikes in Florida.